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After having negociated with the government, and obtained the consent of the Chambers, the French companies have to pass a third ordeal. Their by-laws must be submitted to the Conseil d'Etat for approval. This body has retained so much of the dictatorial spirit of the imperial régime, and has acquired so little knowledge of the interests of the country in trade and manufactures, that it laboured to subject the companies to the absolute controul of the government by the most despotic regulations. In this particular instance it endeavoured to make the original shareholders responsible for the whole amount of the capital, even in case of transfer, The effect of this regulation would evidently have been, either to make the shares untransferable, or to have regulated the value of the shares, like that of bills of exchange, by the credit of the endorser. The company for the railway from Strasburg to Basle had submitted to this condition, and its shares have been down to 18 per cent. below par in consequence. The original shareholders in the Orleans and Hâvre roads consented to be responsible for the three first instalments only, the last of which is payable in 1838; and notwithstanding the strong resistance of the Conseil d'Etat, M. Molé was won over by the all-powerful influence of the great shareholders, and they carried their point.

We have thus briefly explained the incidents of this long struggle between the French government and the awakened spirit of public companies in France. The result of the session of 1838, and the discomfiture of the government in its attempt to monopolize these great speculations and undertakings, has proved that there is now a spirit of enterprise in the country which aspires to undertake works of a magnitude to daunt the greatest individual capitalists. Nevertheless, even our present imperfect experience has, we think, shown that it would be imprudent to rely exclusively on private companies for the construction of the leading railways in France. The roads which have been voted in the last session will require an outlay of 8,000,0001. sterling; and from the effect which they have had upon the market, and the difficulties which the Lille and Dunkirk company has already had to struggle with, it may be inferred, notwithstanding the pompous announcements already made of new undertakings, that no very important company for a leading railway will be organized in the course of next year*.

France is not, like England, a country in which all public improvements are the results of private enterprise and ability; but the finger of the government may be traced in public works, manners, and even habits of business in that country. There are works to be done in France which the government alone can perform with success; and if we seek for a similar state of things in the British isles, we must look, not to England, but to Ireland, to which our attention is called by the invaluable Second Report of the Railway Commissioners, accompanied by its magnificent and comprehensive atlas. In France and Ireland it is essential that every effort be made to combine, as far as possible, the whole system of intercommunication, so that the portions of lines which hold out more special hopes of advantage may not be undertaken otherwise than in connexion with those parts which the extent of the territory or the condition of the population may at present render a less attractive speculation : and the less progress the railway system has made in a country, the more important it is that its resources should be wisely distributed, and its privileges judiciously regulated. The concluding remarks of the Irish Railway Commissioners are so intimately connected with this subject, and correspond so much with our own views, that we make no apology for introducing an extract from them in this place.

“It is a favourite opinion with many, that all undertakings of this description are best left to the free and unfettered exercise of private enterprize, and that the less the state interferes, either in prescribing their execution, or controlling their subsequent operation and management, the better.

“We are fully sensible of the great advantages to be obtained by allowing full scope to the vigour, energy, and intelligence of individuals associated for such important purposes; and that it would be equally inconsistent with the interests and with the rights of society were such exertions crippled or restrained by unnecessary or impolitic regulations. But we apprehend, that the essential difference between railways and any other description of public works has been overlooked, and that power and privileges have been conceded to private companies, which should be exercised only under the direct authority of the state, or under regulations enforced by effective superintendence and control.

* The roads from Paris the sea, from Paris to Orleans, and from Strasburg to Basle, now find their shares fallen below par; whilst the fourth, that of Lille to Dunkirk, is not able, even with the patronage of M. Laffitte, to make up a sufficient number of subscriptions.--La Presse, Sept. 13, 1838.

“But, on the other hand, the public interest would require that they should be bound by such conditions, and held subject to such well-considered regulations and effective control, as shall secure to the country at large the full benefit and accommodation of this admirable system.

“The practice hitherto followed in England has been almost the very reverse of that which we here recommend. No preliminary steps are taken on behalf of the public, to ascertain whether the proposed railroad be well adapted to its specific object, or calculated to form a part of a more general system. The best and the worst devised schemes are entertained alike, being equally exposed to opposition, and left equally unprotected against the difficulties which interested parties may raise up against them."

Should the parties succeed in obtaining a favorable report, they are usually empowered to proceed, and to hold the work, as any other description of private property, subject to little or no external regulation or control. Hence are they enabled to establish a monopoly, in the most extensive sense, and to keep the intercourse of the country entirely at their command. The rate of speed, the choice of hours for departing, the number of journeys in the day, rest at their discretion; and as they have the unlimited right of fixing the charges for the conveyance both of passengers and goods, they then have an opportunity of repaying themselves, not only for the legitimate costs of constructing and maintaining the railway, but for all the heavy expenditure incurred, either through their own extravagance, or in consequence of the various impositions practised upon them. Thus, every item of unnecessary expense falls eventually upon the public.

“Sanguine anticipations have been formed of the advantages, already enumerated, of rapidity, facility, frequency, and economy, which this mode of communication is unquestionably calculated to afford. But it will depend greatly upon the will of the railway companies, as at present constituted, to what extent such expectations shall be realised. With respect to the first of those advantages, that of rapidity, it is known that as the speed increases, the expenses increase in so high a proportion, that it may be apprehended there will be a strong temptation to bring down the velocity to a rate not much exceeding the best public conveyances which the railway will have superseded. Next, as to facility of communication, the existence of separate companies along the same line, without a provision to regulate and enforce their co-operation, may be productive of the greatest inconvenience; and it is already exemplified in the most important line in the kingdomthat from London to Liverpool. It is a matter of notoriety, that a junction of the two lines, near Birmingham, might readily have been effected, and by that means the inconvenience and delay of transferring goods and passengers avoided. It has been avowed by certain companies, that it is their intention not to run their carriages on a Sunday. If they exercise such a power, it will be tantamount to locking the turnpike-gates on common roads; for, although most Acts allow individuals to run their own carriages, VOL. VII.-No XIV.

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and even their own locomotives on railways, this privilege is only allowed subject to the approval and regulations of the company. Scarcely, under any circumstances, does it appear to us that an individual could take advantage of such permission; but it is evident, that while accompanied by the condition we have named, it becomes wholly inoperative, as a remedy for any inconvenient regulation which a company may think it right to enforce. Lastly, as to economy; it may, without fear of contradiction, be stated, that the practice hitherto followed leads necessarily to the highest possible rates of charge. The expenses, which are generally excessive, of obtaining the sanction of Parliament; the exorbitant payments frequently extorted as compensation, or to buy off a vexatious opposition; the superfluous and wasteful profusion often displayed in the construction of the work itself, all concur to demand a large return from the public; which the proprietors, as carriers, being unrestricted as to the rates of charge, will not fail to en'force. And they will the less scruple to do so, because competition, the usual remedy against a disregard of the public accommodation, would be ruinous, and can, in such cases, be rarely resorted to.

“We ventured, in our first report, to point out the probable consequences of confiding such unrestricted powers to private and irresponsible individuals; as regards the conveyance of the mails, these have already begun to manifest themselves; but they are trifling when compared with the serious evils, which, we fear, must inevitably result from such improvident concessions. We believe that railway travelling will continue to maintain a superiority over that which it has superseded; but there is reason to fear that it will be far below what the country might have derived under better regulations ; when this is perceived and understood, the satisfaction which is now felt, will give way to discontent and complaint, and retrospective legislation will supply but a partial and imperfect remedy.

“It might be well to look to the proceedings of other countries, in reference to this important matter. In France the main lines have been laid out under the immediate direction of the government, and the conditions made known, on which private companies will be empowered to ccnstruct and work them. America, as might be expected, from its separate and independent jurisdictions, has proceeded less systematically; but the several States have, in general, become shareholders to large amount, and have thus acquired great influence in the direction of the railways undertaken within their respective limits.

" In England alone, the main lines of communication have been committed to the direction of individuals, almost unconditionally, and without control. We believe this has arisen, in a great measure, from the suddenness with which this invention burst upon the country, and the imperfect view which has as yet been taken of its extraordinary power, as well as of the extent to which the public interests are involved in its just application and management."-pp. 96, 97.

The same questions, then, which the French legislature is called upon to decide, may arise in the British parliament on the subject of Irish Railways; and the House of Commons

may have to inquire, whether the government ought to undertake the works on its own account or to encourage the formation of companies, by loans, privileges, or guarantee? whether the execution ought to be conducted by government officers or private engineers ? whether (at least the question has arisen in France, though it hardly could in Ireland) the army may be employed on public works with advantage? and how far the government can exercise, on behalf of the public, a salutary control over the undertakings of private enterprise. These are novel questions in a matter of no small difficulty ; and the experiments of our French neighbours may, we hope, prove of some use in their solution.

ARTICLE VII.

The Congress of Verona : comprising a portion of Memoirs of

his own Times. By M. DE CHATEAUBRIAND. 2 vols. 8vo.:

London, 1838. Congrès de Vérone. Guerre d'Espagne. Négociations : Co

lonies Espagnoles, par M. DE CHATEAUBRIAND. 2 tom,

8vo.: Paris, 1838. If any of our readers should take the trouble to compare the extracts which in the course of our observations on the new work of M. de Chateaubriand we shall have occasion to make, with the corresponding passages in the translation, they will perceive that we have, in many instances, departed from the text of the English version; and we think it right to explain the motives which have induced us to adopt that course, The writings of the author of the Génie du Christianisme are too well known in this country to require from us any exposition of the peculiarities of what we cannot but consider his very defective style; we look upon M. de Chateaubriand as the most eminent example of that extremely bad taste, too prevalent among the writers of the modern French school, which appears to prohibit the expression of any idea, however common-place or insignificant, in a simple intelligible manner. For this reason we are bound to make, and we do make, considerable allowances for his translator, as the task

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